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Personality test: Arvin Clay

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Arvin Clay
Credit: Bridgett Kay Harbaugh
Arvin Clay Credit: Bridgett Kay Harbaugh
A photography by Arvin Clay
A photography by Arvin Clay

Blame Michael Jackson. Had it not been for the pop star's iconic music video “Thriller,” Arvin Clay might have found something way more boring to do with his life and down time.

Some 29 years after the ground-breaking video featuring dancers — and Michael himself — made up as zombies and monsters with impeccable rhythm, Clay is still feeding his special-effects muse.

“I remember sitting watching ‘The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller' thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, you mean you can actually make a living at this?' ” the 37-year-old Wilkinsburg resident recalls. “I had to learn everything I could about it.”

Books and special effects classes followed, and today he's a special-effects artist. And that brought him to Conneaut Lake Park and the set of the upcoming thriller film “Scream Park.”

The film, written and directed by New Castle native and 2004 University of Pittsburgh grad Cary Hill, is a retro style '80s horror film about an amusement park closing for the last time. It stars Doug Bradley (“Hellraiser” and “Hellbound: Hellraiser II”) and was shot partially at the park last spring.

The film was screened on Halloween in Meadville, and producers are in talks to eventually bring it to Pittsburgh.

The star who would play me in the movie version of my life and why:

I think it would be a Tim Burton-designed stop-motion animated film, then have somebody like Jack Black or Christian Bale using his Batman voice play me.

Childhood hero and why:

The 5-year-old me, it would have been Batman or Luke Skywalker. After having seen “The Making of Thriller,” it was Rick Baker because, up until then, I had no idea you could make a career of making monsters.

Pick one:

A. Go-Gos

B. Goo-Goo Dolls

C. Lady Gaga

D. Yo Gabba Gabba

Add a “hey!” to that Yo Gabba Gabba, and you have the Ramones. Also, Matt Chapman, who was previously half of the creative force behind Homestar Runner is now writing for the show.

The piece of memorabilia from my childhood I wish I still had:

All of those lost Star Wars toys.

The superpower I wish I had in real life and why:

Healing. There is so much pain around us in everyday life that I wish I could make disappear.

I can't live without my: iPod, cell phone, DVR or laptop?

They are not life and death choices. Things can be replaced.

My favorite reality show:

“Face Off!” How cool is it that there is a show about makeup effects artists?

App I wish I could invent:

Something that could shoot in camera raw on the phone instead of compressing everything into .jpg!

Favorite brunch food:

Waffles. I blame Leslie Knope for this.

Favorite guilty pleasure:

The occasional days when I am a bad vegan ... (See waffles )

Best mistake I've ever made:

In high school, I was working at a haunted hayride. I didn't have enough foam latex to make a chest piece. I did have mold making silicone. So I poured it up and thought how neat it was that it felt kinda fleshy. That turned into a fixation and I haven't looked back since.

Something I would do over if I could and why:

Everything we do (success or failure) gets us to the moment we are in right now.

Pick one:

A. Pirates

B. Penguins

C. Steelers

D. Other

E. I hate sports

I am going to plead the Fifth on this one. I know better than to say I am anything less than a sports fanatic here in da burgh.

My favorite Pittsburgh athlete:

Every person who has ever run in a marathon

Favorite lunchtime spot:

The Quiet Storm in Larryville.

Top thing on my ‘Bucket List' to do before I'm gone:

To complete Dick Smith's Advanced Professional Make-Up course.

In five years, I'd like to:

See Pittsburgh become a huge juggernaut in the film industry.

My favorite thing about Pittsburgh is:

We are the real zombie Capital of the World!!

Star I'd like to dance with on “Dancing with the Stars”:

Anybody who can make up for what seems like three left feet that I have.

My quirkiest inherited trait:

Is an obsession with music an inherited trait?

My favorite sandwich, plus fixings:

The Double Wide Grill makes a mean BBQ Pulled Seitan sandwich.

One word my mother would use to describe me:

My mom said that the first word that came to mind was “creative.”

Celebrity crush:

Claire Danes. Though, to be fair, she does not hold a candle to my girlfriend, Danielle.

The oldest thing in my refrigerator is:

I think there is at least one well past it's prime kombucha in there.

When I was 10, I wanted to be:

A monster maker.

Exercise I hate most:

Judging by the bit of marshmallow fluff in my centers, you can guess that answer to be most.

I'm deathly afraid of:

Spiders and rodents.

If I was auditioning for “American Idol,” my song would be:

“Whip it!” by Devo.

The first band I saw in concert (when and where):

Nine Inch Nails in Cleveland, sometime in the early '90s.

The best concert I've ever seen:

Skinny Puppy. They take performance art to an unbelievable level.

TV marathon I could watch all day and why:

I have watched and re-watched “Parks and Recreation” more times than I can count.

Favorite Pittsburgh-area landmark:

The Mr. Rogers T-Rex. Seeing that always makes me smile. Fred Rogers is the biggest reason I can usually be seen in sneakers and a cardigan.

Saturday mornings, you'll find me:

Probably getting ready for work.

Best new gadget I've tried recently:

I just got a set of really nice wax tools. Do they count?

The person I'm most often mistaken for:

Sally Wiggin (Just kidding. I heart you Sally!!)

The worst advice I ever received:

Being told I wasn't talented or skilled enough to pull something off. Silly rabbit, that just forces me to prove you wrong.

In high school, I was:

The weird kid in black, reading Fangoria and making monsters in the art room.

The most famous person I ever became friends with:

Nivek Ogre

The movie that always makes me cry:

“Up.” If ever there was a misnomer in a film title ... the first 10 minutes of that movie is anything but up.

My most treasured fashion accessory is:

I'm kind of a jacket hoarder.

What you'll always find in my glove compartment:

Nothing. I don't have a car, and I never learned to drive.

My most embarrassing junk food:

Oreos. Just because something is vegan does not mean it's good for you.

If I wasn't a special effects artist, I'd be:

I can't fathom that life. Maybe a forensic investigator (the non-stabby kind).

The last book I read:

I just finished my mom's book “Dying to Love Amanda.”

My favorite Pittsburgh pizza:

Spak brothers. Best vegan pie in town!

Movie I could watch every time it appears on cable:

I want to give the cool answer and say “Blade Runner,” but the real answer is “Step Brothers.”

My favorite website: It may not have been updated in a few years, but it is still the funniest thing on the web.

My most memorable fashion mistake:

We will not speak of the tour of the bad haircuts that ended with me having black and blue dreadlocks

If I could live my life as someone else, it would be:

Batman. Or Derek Zoolander.

My childhood nickname was:

When your parents bless you with a name like Arvin, nicknames are unnecessary.

My favorite “bad” movie is:

Two of my favorite movies of all times were critical and box office flops — “Blade Runner” and “John Carpenter's The Thing.”

My first job:

Working the makeup counter at Mr Fun's Costumes when I was in the eighth grade.

My worst job:

Having to wear a chicken suit to promote the opening of a restaurant.

My favorite cable channel:

Cartoon Network

The song that always gets me out on the dance floor and why:

The Jesus and Mary Chain “Head On” or Joy Division's “Transmission”

If I could tour with any two bands, they would be:

Skinny Puppy and My Bloody Valentine (though I might go deaf on tour with MBV)

I never travel without my:

Keys, wallet, iPhone, pants

People would be surprised to know that I:

Have yet to make it to Pittsburgh Comic Con.

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